The culture of Yemen is greatly influenced by Islam that dates back from the ancient times. Because of the distinctive geographic location of the country, its culture was greatly influenced by its neighboring countries that have led to what people are following now in the country.
The Religion in Yemen
There are 2 main Islam’s religious groups that are being practiced in Yemen and these are Shi’a and Sunni. In total, there are around 52% of the entire Muslim population in the country consist of Sunni followers, 46% are composed of Shi’a followers while the rest are composed of other religions. Primarily, Sunnis are Shafi’I but still include other groups such as the Hanbalis and Malikis. On the other hand, Shi’as are mostly Zaidis wherein other minorities such as Musta’ali Western Isma’ili Shi’as and Twelver Shi’as are included.
South and Southeastern areas are where Sunnis can be found while the Zaidis are found predominantly in the North or Northwestern areas. The Ismailis and Jafaris are usually found in the main areas of Ma’rib and Sana’a while in the larger cities, the communities are already mixed.
Non-Muslim nationalities in Yemen compose less than 1% of the population and with this 1% it may include Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and also Atheism. The constitution implemented in the country also includes laws that are protecting and inhibiting the freedom on practicing different religions in the country.
Music Influences in Yemen
The country is known to be the cultural center of the Arab world. Primarily, music in the country is known abroad due to the popular pan-Arab stars and also the Yemenite Jews. The national anthem of the country entitled “United Republic” was written by the known Abdallah “al-Fadhool” Abdulwahab Noman. In November 7, 2003, UNESCO has proclaimed that the traditional poetic song entitled “al-Ghina al-San’ani” as the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’s masterpiece.
Yemeni Theatre Culture
The rich history of the Yemeni theatre is dating back in less than a century to early 1900s. Professional or the government sponsored actors along with the amateur theatre troupes are the ones that are usually performing in the major urban areas in the country. Significant authors and poets from the country like Muhammad al-Sharafi, Wajdi al-Ahdal and Ali Ahmed Ba Kathir who have written poems, dramatic works, novels and those short stories written by Yemeni such as Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh and Mohammad Abdul-Wali were adapted on stage.
Aside from these works, there were also other Yemeni productions from Arab authors and other Western authors who were adapted on stage by either of the mentioned troupes. Depending on the history, the center of Yemeni theatre is Aden, a southern port city in the country. In the previous decades, Sana’a is the common host for various theatre festivals and is often in combination with the World Theatre Day.
The Rich Cuisine that Yemenis has to Offer the World
Unlike the popular Middle Eastern cuisines, Yemeni cuisine is completely distinct and is even slightly different from each region. Beef is very expensive in the country making lamb and chicken the more frequently prepared by people. For those people who are living in coastal areas or near the coastal areas, fishes are staples in their tables.
With the Yemeni diet, dairy products such as butter and cheese are not really commonly added in the meals of every Yemeni. However, buttermilk is usual enjoyed in some villages especially to those villages where it readily available. Some of the common lipids used in the country are vegetable oil as well as ghee that are used for savory dishes. Another lipid called semn or clarified butter is the usual option by people to be used in different pastries.
Though there are different variations in every region, saltah is still considered as the national dish. Brown meat stew, which is called Maraq is used for the base, with a spoonful of fenugreek froth and sahowqa or sahawq is placed on top. Some of the usual additions with saltah are vegetables, scrambled eggs, potatoes and rice. Traditionally, this national dish is eaten with Yemeni flat bread that is used as the utensil for scooping up the dish.
Shakshouka is known as a popular Yemeni dish that is made with the mixture of meat, eggs, peppers, tomatoes, onions and other spices. This dish is also served with Yemeni flat bread or even white bread that is used as the utensil. Other famous dishes that are served in Yemen are fahsa, aseed, samak mofa, thareed, shafut, Fattah, biryani, mandi and fatoot.
Milk tea is served after qat while black tea is usually served with clove, mint or cardamom, qishr or coffee husks, karkadin a concoction made from the infused dried hibiscus flowers, qahwa or coffee, and many traditional drinks that any person from different parts of the world should try when they visit the country.
Some of the famous kinds of Yemeni flat breads are Laxoox and malooga. Usually, Malooga is paired with bean recipes while Laxoox is paired with stews, curry and other Yemeni soups and also with other rice dishes.
The Culture of Qat Followed by Yemenis
Qat or Khat or called as Catha Edulis is widely cultivated plant found in Yemen and is traditionally used by people for chewing. When the juice is swallowed, a person will experience the effects of taking amphetamines. The plant is usually chewed during afternoons.
Sports in Yemen
The most famous sport in the country is Football. Yemen is also known for hosting various football clubs and is competing in both international and national leagues. The national football team is competing in AFC and FIFA leagues.
Other sports that can be tried in the country are selections of outdoor activities like rock climbing, biking and more.
The Role of Education in the Yemeni Culture
The country is making the education system as their top priority. During the previous decades, the country is providing a high share from the country’s budget that is averaging of about 14 t6 20% of the total expenditure of the government. With the extent of the government’s effort in improving the education system, the country has lessened the percentage of illiteracy.